This galvanized metal foghorn was a standard piece of equipment on 19th-century fishing dories. It was used to convey the dory’s location during winter snowstorms and heavy fog. In such conditions, a member of the crew aboard the schooner would pump a larger foghorn continuously to make sure the dorymen were aware of the schooner’s location.
Dories were small, open boats equipped with a sail and oars. Stacks of them were carried aboard large fishing schooners. Once a schooner reached the offshore fishing grounds, the dories were set in the water and manned by pairs of crewmen. These fishermen set their trawls—long lines with baited hooks—and then hauled them in, removing the fish into the dory. Once their dory was filled, the fishermen rowed or sailed back to the schooner to offload the catch and rebait the hooks, if needed.
The prospect of getting separated from the schooner in bad weather and thick fog was a constant worry among fishermen on Georges and the Grand Banks. In addition to a dory compass, a water bottle, and hardtack, the foghorn was an essential part of a doryman’s survival kit.
Object Name
horn, boat
Date made
Wilcox, Crittenden & Co.
Physical Description
tin (overall material)
overall: 10.8 cm x 75.8 cm x 10.4 cm; 4 1/4 in x 29 13/16 in x 4 1/8 in
Place Made
United States: Connecticut, Middletown
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
The Development of the Industrial United States
See more items in
Work and Industry: Fisheries
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Wilcox, Crittenden & Co.
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL
Additional Media

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